22 July 22. Ghangharia Valley of Flowers and Back.
We both got up around 0500. We had ruled out morning bath as getting hot water in bucket early morning is exercise by staff. Shaving without mirror in bathroom was another exercise which we kept for evening again. So, to just brush and use the thunder box (it was proper WC though) was not time consuming and we were ready quickly to have breakfast, collected packed lunch and started with guide Mahendra for the trek, he had come to the camp for breakfast and carried packed lunch for some other groups. (Thunder Box is small structure created at smaller boats to relieve one self at sea)
Weather was cloudy with very fine drizzle sometimes ,but no rains, so we didn’t need any rain protection as such. Ghangharia was already fully active with horses, porter, pittu and palaki for Hemkund as well as Valley of Flowers. Valley of flowers horses don’t go, so only Pithu, which I consider inhuman, is allowed. All these places you start trekking with full winter clothing but within half a km of climbing trek, off comes the top layers tied to your waist and better to have half sleeves than full sleeve shirt. If you are conscious of sun burn then have Sleeves with you that is ideal for such trekking.
We reached Valley of Flowers gate by 7 Am and as Senior Citizens paid only half entrance ticket of 75 Rs, immaterial to write that we were only senior citizens for the day. Only four youngsters were ahead and later 10 to 15 more came. Overall ratio of people going to Hemkund to valley of flowers has no comparison. Hemkund probably sees over thousands per day and Valley sees less than 100.
We crossed first stream by temporary bridge which was washed off day before yesterday. Climb started straight away and despite lot of clouding, Ghangharia below was looking beautiful. Guide asked us to look for flowers and we kept clicking them. Trek to valley of flowers is all on stones and gravel, stones are uneven and so sharp at times that they can cut shoes sole easily, some places fairly steep too. Streams flowing all along and you can keep climbing, clicking number of snaps. Hardly any sound of birds though there are plenty of small birds which are difficult to spot. We did spot a tail-less mountain rat.
After almost two hours of trekking inside and crossing the second large stream bridge, the main spread of flowers started.
It is difficult to capture the beauty with silence and serenity. It is not that flowers are loaded from top of hills to Valley, on contrary they are comparatively in smaller patches. Many varieties and colours, as per guide almost every week different flowers bloom. We kept walking and crossed many other streams without bridge. Our waterproof trekking shoes were boon for such crossing.
After sometime there was no signal even on Jio mobile of guide and we were virtually cut off from whole world. We kept walking and reached Pushpavati River by 1210 hours after 11 Km trek, this is the farthest spread of Valley, of course one can continue trekking if someone wants. It started drizzling for some time. It was lunch time, we had packed lunch, Veg Biryani was tasty despite getting cold.
Lots of photos and videos were taken and we started trekking back. Park closes at 1700 hours, but we were well ahead of time and came out by 1600 to reach our camp by 1630.
It was 22.3 Km of trekking, climbing over 3000 ft and then descending as well. We looked for massager and got two of them. First foot massage and then shoulder massage gave a good relaxation, followed by hot water bath. Lovely pakoras and tea, made our life really good. We both stretched out in bed, I had soup later in tent and skipped the dinner. Mahendra our guide came to brief us for next day trek to Hemkund Saheb. Start time was 0500 without breakfast.
23 Jul 22. Ghangharia Hemkund Saheb and Back.
We both got up at 0400. It rained whole night and was still drizzling at that time and only stopped around 0430. We started at 0500, it was dark and foggy. I used my head lamp to trek. By the time we crossed Ghangharia town, light had started and town was abuzz with life. Horses, people they were all moving towards Hemkund. Hemkund Saheb Climb is steep with no respite, many time almost 20-to-30-degree climb. In 8 km trek one has to climb to 14300 ft from 10,000 ft. It was quite thick fog and there was nothing to look around to break the monotony of climb. Previous day 22 km trek was still afresh in body. We were pushing ourselves. Stopped for tea and after that for breakfast of aloo pyaz Paratha and tea, both were not so great but gave us energy.
All these treks, you got to keep drinking water and eat some toffee, chocolate, protein Bar or dry fruits to give you instant energy and keep you hydrated. Dehydration is worse thing to happen in trekking. One must know his/ her own body and push it accordingly.
Horse dropping all along makes the trek not just smelly but slippery at places. One must be careful with balance and poise. Mostly trek path is cement and stone but not evenly done at majority of places and twisting ankle is easier. I met 80-year-old Khalsa climbing happily, age is just a number, many youngsters were on horses.
Last 1000 ft climb has two options, either take 999 steps or climb through ramp. We both decided to take the ramp. It was slow and steady physical taste to limits. Lot of mental strength to just continue.
As we approached top, we saw Blue Poppy and Brahm Kamal, both rare flowers. No respite in weather a bit of sleet also fell for some time but we didn’t take out raincoat.
Finally, we were on top by 1005, Five hours to traverse 8 km and climb 4000 ft plus. There was fog on top with just 50-to-100-meter visibility. We went to Laxman temple first and after photography from outside. Till sixties Laxman temple was only thing on top, Gurudwara came up later and initially this temple was removed but re-established after locals objected. We came back to Gurudwara side where the glacier lake is in full of its beauty. Few people were taking bath in that ice cold water as well. After depositing our shoes, we got inside Kund up to knee deep and I realised that it was possible to take a dip if one wanted.
Then we visited Gurudwara and spent 15 to 20 minutes inside, had Kada Prasad on exist.
Then we came for lungar where khichdi and tea are served. We had some time to relax. After spending about hour and half on top, we started our decent, weather was still the same.
Coming down was not so fast as it was wet and steep and we didn’t want to slip and fall.
Around 1400 weather below clouds had cleared and we could click some photos, top still was covered in clouds. Lower heights broke into sunshine and as we didn’t carry sunscreen lotion that day, we had fair amount of sun burns on both hands and face.
Coming down was still fast and by 1540 we reached our camp, tired and exhausted. We again looked for our massager and he did a good job with foot massage taking out knots from calf muscle and soothing out heels and toes. Hot-water bath looked heavenly and bread pakoda and tea was sumptuous which was mostly eaten by me again skipping dinner with only soups. Next day we had to depart by 0530. Packing had to finish and wet and dry cloths had to pack separately in plastic.
Good night Ghangharia, it was wonderful to be here, I am not sure if I will ever return here again as it is tough for Geeti to undertake this and she is not keen on horse ride at all.
Rain started again after sometime and rain intermittently all through the night. (To be continued to last part 4)
Entering Valley of flowers First stream bridge which was washed away day before yesterday was restored with temporary one
The Ghangharia Valley behind as we climbed up for Valley of flowers
Blue Poppy ,generally found over 10K
Tough and rough climb ahead ,both ready to face it with broad smile
Rest you must, climb becoming steep and steeper
Colour and shape of mammoth mountains rising and adding colours to adventure
Can you really capture what you see! No, capture in your eyes was advice of our guide. What beauty
This is the path we are climbing, poor horses refuse the valley of flower. Pithu is inhuman to come, forget it if you cannot walk. Lucky to take this trip , thanks to Ramesh for such wonderful company
Want to say Wow? We were awestruck all the time , wow was no match for beauty
Here are some Pedicularis Punctata, wow in name as well
Ohhh what are you
One more stream and one more bridge to cross
Filling up my water bottle from fresh flowing stream
Hey want to give me name
I am another one , call me anything ,I am Valley ,I am full of flowers
Pink is my colour
Any doubts you have about Valley of Flowers ? This Flowering time clears it all
The Pushavati River . Farthest point of Flowers of valley after walking 11 km plus and climbing over 3000 ft/
I hate tears
At River front when the rain started.
No Just Retired.
Reunited at river crossing
What a relief after 23 Km walk.
Shoulder and body getting into shape. Champi wala,
Do Ana Tel Malish , Char Ana Boot Polish. What a wonderful day we had.
Climbing away to Hemkund Saheb ,23 July 2022
This is the steepness of Hemkund climb and fog and mist eluding the diversion.
Two Veterans in sync putting the best foot forward in unison.
Blue Poppy blooming
Embracing Brahm Kamal. The holy flower with plenty of medicinal property, blooms higher up only for few months.
The Hemkund Saheb Gurudwara
Way to Laxman temple which was the only temple till sixties, Gurudwara came up later and initialy this temple was removed but re-established after locals objected.
Inside of temple
In front of Laxman temple
The Glacier Lake Hemkund
Taking a knee dip at Ice Cold Lake
The Darbar sahib of Gurudwara Hemkund Saheb
Going down from Hemkund and looking up
Clouds cleared up at low heights to allow some breath-taking view
The photo says it all. Tired and exhausted but deeply satisfied with what we just achieved. A very satisfying day indeed.